Schizophrenia Awareness - Signs, Symptoms and Help
A warm fuzzy welcome to all of my readers. This hub is intended to help spread the awareness, cut stigma and offer help to those who are suffering from, know someone with or fear they may be suffering from Schizophrenia. I would like to add a small disclaimer that I am not a healthcare professional, however I suffer from Schizophrenia myself and would like to share some of my story and my experiences to help other people.
So what types of Schizophrenia are there?
- Schizoaffective Disorder
Each one presents their own symptoms, their own diagnosis and their own treatment. I will separate each one into its own little category for easier reading. They will be written in order.
Paranoid Schizophrenia is probably the most recognised form. Paranoid Schizophrenia has its own symptoms and to be diagnosed with it you must fit the strict criteria. Only a professional can truly give you the correct diagnosis.
Paranoid Schizophrenia does not impair the intellect or emotional behaviours of a person. Often people are capable of continuing normal lives, going to work and keeping themselves somewhat organised.
- Auditory hallucinations - hearing voices, music or other sounds.
- Angry outbursts - possible violence or uncontrollable behaviour.
- Emotional distance or physical lack of emotion, lack of empathy.
- Self-harm/ suicidal attempts/thoughts
- Muddled or foggy thinking
- Cynicism - doubt, lack of trust, suspicions of other people
- Becoming socially withdrawn
People with paranoid Schizophrenia display no symptoms of a mood or thought disorder. They are able to function, maintain a lifestyle and take care of themselves e.g. eating, sleeping and bathing.
Hallucinations can be of any of the five senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. With paranoid types, it is common to hear voices, often critical and usually of people you know e.g. family members, friends, your own voice or the voice of a famous person. Hearing voices can include lines from TV shows, comments, a commentary on what the person is doing, telling you to do bad things or music playing. Hearing sounds such as dogs barking, the phone ringing, people in the house or bells are other common traits. Smelling things, sensations of things touching or hurting you, insects on the skin and a constant bad taste in the mouth are also hallucinations.
An unshakable belief with little or no logic or a solid explanation. With paranoid Schizophrenia, the delusions are usually that people are plotting to harm you, poison you, kill you, the government are monitoring or trying to capture you, people are stalking you, the FBI are trying to recruit you and sell you to slavery or anyone that comes near you is trying to murder you. It is extremely common for delusions to take the form of people trying to harm you in some way.
Other common delusions include; belief that you have magical powers, that you are an animal, that you can fly or that you are a superhuman individual or a paranormal creature.
Emotions and Paranoid Schizophrenia:
People with paranoid types have a mostly normal emotional range. Their emotions may be duller or less appropriate than what is considered normal, however they are able to display the correct emotions at the correct times. However, paranoid Schizophrenia can cause outbursts of rage, anxiety or violent behaviour which derives from the delusions and feeling threatened. It can take very little to trigger these emotions and they can become extremely severe.
This type of Schizophrenia can cause irritability, social withdrawal, resentment towards people that do not listen to or believe the person. People with paranoid Schizophrenia are highly argumentative, adamant and have very high self-importance (not to be confused with arrogance) This can easily destroy relationships or friendships. Cynicism, lack of trust and serious doubt in other people can prevent the person from building bonds with other human beings.
In some cases these problems can lead to emotional instability, self-harm or suicide. If you or someone you know is self-harming or contemplating suicide please contact a medical professional or a service that can help you immediately. At the bottom there will be some good UK services to contact.
Disorganised Schizophrenia is a very specialised form. It is a combination of Schizophrenia and a thought disorder where the person is incapable of having straight, sensible or organised thinking. It can be very complex and the person must exhibit symptoms of a thought disorder to be diagnosed with it.
- Illogical or nonsensical thought patterns, unable to think straight, becomes confused easily and cannot apply logic or sense to standard thinking or actions.
- Short term memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Thoughts may be erratic and unable to focus on one topic e.g. may sound like multiple people are talking in your head at once
- Limited range of emotion and lack of physical ability to show emotion
- Inappropriate laughter
- Inability to function in daily life e.g bathing, keeping house tidy, sleeping properly, eating.
- Social isolation
- Inappropriate behaviour e.g. explicit public actions or pulling inappropriate faces.
Disorganised Schizophrenia is classed as a very severe form and can drastically prohibit a person's ability to think, behave and function correctly in daily life making it very difficult if not impossible for them to live alone or look after themselves. School/work issues are extremely common.
A person with Disorganised Schizophrenia may not be able to think or act appropriately e.g. wearing too much clothing on a warm day, sleeping too much or too little, loss of personal hygiene e.g. not washing hair, shaving or brushing the teeth/body odour. The person may dress inappropriately, wear clothes that do not match or repeatedly changing style in a short period of time.
Often they cannot control their thinking, organise their thoughts or control their actions. Some may sing, shout or swear for no reason at all or they may stand in an odd position or appear to be awkward and forced in their body language. Public behaviour may be inappropriate or they may grimace, pull excessive or odd facial expressions, laugh or cry inappropriately or begin muttering to themselves.
Hallucinations are common with disorganised Schizophrenia usually in the form of hearing voices that can be muddled, critical or negative in some way.
Self-harm and suicide are also an issue when the person can no longer cope with their symptoms.
This form is much less common in recent years and displays some traits similar to disorganised Schizophrenia, however, this can be a much more complex or violent form.
- Freezing in odd or forced positions e.g. snarling like a dog, hands up in claws or frozen as though they were turned to stone in a fight. This can last from minutes to hours at a time.
- Being unreponsive/ unable to move. Someone else may move the person's arm or leg into a position and they will not move it back.
- Lack of physical emotion
- Outbursts of anger, upset or anxiety
- Mimicking speech or movement of yourself or other people
- Repeating the same action over and over again
- May not respond to instructions, questions or behave appropriately.
- Hyperactive moments that can't be controlled, physical excitement, pacing or excessive facial expressions.
- Stupor - lack of awareness, lack of speech, emptiness.
- Following an excessive routine
- Violence or high physical aggression
Catatonic Schizophrenia in some cases lead to high levels of aggression, violent actions or dangerous behaviours. It often causes a problem with mobility where the person has odd or jerky movements/expressions or falls into a stupor and is unable to speak, react, becomes unresponsive or unaware of the surroundings. With Catatonic Schizophrenia the physical aspects outweigh the standard symptoms of Schizophrenia.
Force sitting positions, rigid body, stiff movements, grimacing for long periods, blank expressions, lack of emotions or holding muscles stiff and tight are some of the earlier symptoms.
Residual Schizophrenia is where the person whom has been diagnosed is no longer displaying symptoms or hasn't had an episode in a period of time. This can also mean their symptoms have become much less severe but are still present. Often this is classed as the recovery stage where the person has had a drastic improvement and is able to function normally with little or no symptoms.
It can take a long time for Schizophrenia to be diagnosed. Many people are put into the unidentified type which means they are displaying symptoms for more than one form of Schizophrenia e.g. symptoms of paranoid and disorganised, catatonic and paranoid, etc. They may have symptoms present that are from multiple forms of psychosis e.g. symptoms of a mood disorder as well as Schizophrenia or symptoms of Mania and Catatonic Schizophrenia.
This implies symptoms of Schizophrenia and a mood disorder combined. It is much less common than Schizophrenia and some believe it to be at times a combination of Bipolar and Schizophrenia. It is extremely serious. It can be very hard to diagnose.
- Emotional outbursts of anger, upset, happiness or uncontrollable emotions.
- Muddled thinking
- Mood disturbances that are abnormal or fluctuate more violently, mood swings
- Mood disturbances may not be present for periods of time when hallucinations or delusions begin.
- Concentration problems
- Loss or sudden gain in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts/ self-harm/ thoughts to harm other people
- Racing thoughts and or speech
- Sudden changes in behaviour, risky actions or behaving dangerously.
- Symptoms of disorganised or catatonic Schizophrenia
- Lack of emotions
Where can I get Support?
If you feel you may be have Schizophrenia or any other form of mental health problem, there are several trusted places you can go to for help. They have most of these places or some similar in all countries.
- Your GP
- A private counselor
- CMHT - Your local Community Mental Health team
- Childline - if under the age of 18 and suffering abuse
- The Suicide hotline
- SANE - a UK organisation that provide round the clock phone care
- Samaritans UK - you can call them or drop in and visit them
- The local Crisis Team - an emergency service that provide round the clock care, attention and can come straight to your home or speak to your over the phone
- Child and Family services across the country
- A parent, sibling, trusted friend or other family member
There are many more charities and places you can phone up at any time, day or night. Clinics, doctors, and services you can use for help. If you feel you are suffering or experiencing mental health symptoms/issues it is important you speak to someone as soon as possible.
Nobody is going to judge you and you have a right in your medical care to make choices. You have the right to refuse treatment, make a complaint, request things, look elsewhere for a different place, ask for a referral, speak to your doctor or phone any charity or service you wish. You also have the right if you need medication to choose whether or not you have it and you have the right to voluntarily admit yourself to hospital.
You have more options than anyone could know and there is plenty of help available.